The past month has been strange to say the least. My child is home all the time, my husband is home but working long hours, we can’t go to church, the library, my beloved Target or out to dinner. But the change that is most disruptive to me is that I can no longer go to the gym. This was such a concern to me that before I even thought about getting my daughter set up in her new remote learning space I was online ordering an elliptical to be delivered as quickly as possible. I was fully aware that not everyone in my house would make it through this crisis if I was not able to sweat it out for an hour a day. While everyone was out raiding their local grocery store for toilet paper, I was online comparing elliptical specs. I don’t know why I bothered since I picked the one that most resembled my favorite machine at the gym. When shipping options appeared I opted for the white glove set up after remembering our last experience with purchasing gym equipment. My husband and I nearly killed each other trying to get a treadmill down a flight of steps into our basement twelve years ago. Clearly that experience scarred me for life as it was the first memory that popped into my head when I was ordering.
When I clicked “submit order” I was a little surprised to see that it would take two weeks to deliver. I set up a delivery time for a saturday afternoon and headed outside for a walk. Over the next few weeks I discovered all kinds of new places to walk around my house. There is a nature center less than a mile away where I spent hours at a time walking and watching wild turkeys and deer while I made observations about my fellow hikers. The one thing I didn’t do was sweat. I was getting desperate to get back to my routine when I received a call from the delivery company informing me that my equipment would arrive the following day between noon and 2 pm. That night I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. I actually dreamed about riding my shiny new elliptical. I had cleared out the space in my office where my new machine would be placed and I even vacuumed the floor. I was going to sleep in my workout clothes just to be prepared, but I thought that may be a little much.
The following morning I was awoken by a truck rumbling outside my window. I knew it couldn’t be my delivery since it was not due for several more hours, but then my doorbell rang an there was an immediate pounding on the front door. I shook my husband awake and told him to run downstairs since I was in my underwear and my hair resembled something from a bad new wave video from the 80s. Within that ten seconds my phone started to ring. These delivery men were anxious to get in our house. Maybe they had heard about the mass amounts of hand sanitizer I had lined up on the counter.
When my husband answered the door he was informed that they were not all that anxious to get in our house, they were actually not even allowed to enter our house. They rang our bell at the crack of dawn to tell us we would have to reschedule or they could leave the box at our door. As I heard this from the top of the stairs I yelled down “LEAVE IT!!” knowing I would not survive another few days without a good workout, let alone another few months. They shoved the enormous box through our front door crashing right into the closet, knocking the door off the track. They said that was their “white glove service” and scampered away. My husband later informed me that we were supposed to have received a call about the delivery change which we still have not received a month later. As a matter of fact, the $250 charge for the white glove service has also not been refunded. Apparently Nordictrack charges a fee to send a couple of guys out to break your closet doors, just in case anyone needs this service. Maybe this is a ploy to get people to buy additional equipment. I can attest that after several calls, e-mails and online chats with no resolution, I need a good workout to burn off the anger secreting from my pores.
Delivery day turned out to be a lot less like Christmas day than I had anticipated. It was more like Tuesday at a work camp. After my husband and I stood staring at the box for an eternity, we finally got to work. It took a good 30 minutes to get the giant box on it’s side and cut open, and that was just the beginning. We decided that if two delivery men could lug this monstrosity up the stairs, so could we. This was the same magical thinking that had us believing we could set up a treadmill unassisted twelve years ago. We spent a much longer time than we should have walking around the machine trying to determine the best way to approach the lifting. Then we proceeded to circle the machine several more times trying to lift it periodically, both of us convinced that we could lift the side that our spouse was clearly too weak to lift. Neither of us could lift one side alone and we didn’t want to scratch up the hardwood floor trying to drag it. We were able to come up with several solutions to our problem, all of which included having other people move this beast which was not going to happen for awhile.
We finally conceded and dragged the machine into the living room using rugs. We were only able to move it an inch at a time and about halfway through I laughed that we had ever thought we could carry this thing up the stairs by ourselves. I did finally get to sweat the way I had been craving and was getting a full body workout just trying to situate the machine in the least obtrusive place. There is no such place with a piece of gym equipment in a living room. Gym equipment is obtrusive, especially in a living room. While we used the tiny tools to attach the arms to the machine I thought back to going to a relative’s house for a party where they had an entire gym in their living room. It was the first thing you saw when you walked in the front door and I was perplexed about why they would do such a thing. Now I know that they probably moved into the house and gave up on trying to move the equipment once they got ten feet through the door. Luckily nobody would be coming to our house to see our new home gym/living room.
The good news about this is that our living room faces the street so I still get the people watching I got at the gym, just with more dogs and kids. I get to read my book while I peddle away as well as watch the neighbors walk their dogs and weed their gardens. My kid has also decided that riding the elliptical is a blast so she hops on for a half hour at a time when she can’t get outside. My husband hasn’t used the machine much. I can’t determine if it’s a matter of not having the time or if he is holding a grudge from when one of the arms swung down and beamed him on the top of the head during assembly. Either way, he isn’t complaining about it being an eyesore in the middle of the living room. I’m just happy that I am able to get in a good workout in my own house. Lord knows I need it after the pandemic pantry bingeing that’s been happening around here.
*I wrote most of this in my head while on my new elliptical, but here’s some good workout music in case you decide to open a home gym in your living room…
Have people developed an aversion to headphones recently? I have been noticing more and more people watching streaming content on their phones and tablets at the gym without using headphones. They have the volume cranked up like they are lounging on their couch in their underwear, completely unconcerned about whether or not their noise is bothering anyone else.
Several years ago when my husband and I were in Atlantis, we were walking through the aquarium when an even trashier version of the cast of Jersey Shore came strolling through the halls. They were blasting music from a boom box hoisted on one of the spiky haired guido’s shoulders. I was disgusted – both by their greasiness and their manners. I mean, who does that? It was like walking down a New York City street in the 80s. Now, every time I hear someone’s music or movie emanating from their device, all I can see are the greaseballs slinking through the aquarium. Somehow seemingly normal, albeit rude, middle aged women morph into overly tanned, overly painted meatballs the second those speakers chirp.
There are a few women in my gym who watch television on their devices while pumping away on the elliptical machines. One woman watches what I can only surmise is a tween fantasy show on her tiny iPhone. Every time a new scene starts, twinkly music bursts out of the speaker. It’s like Tinkerbell is flying out of her phone every 5 minutes. She is an Asian woman and every time her little bells start chiming I want to tell her that she is not helping to disprove any of the stereotypes regarding Asian women and their love of all things little girl-like. At least I can’t hear any of the actual dialog from whatever she is watching, just lots of giggling and bells.
A new woman walked into my gym the other day and proceeded to set up her over sized tablet in front of her. She spent the next hour blaring a cop show while everyone within twenty yards of her cleared out of the gym. It took every ounce of self-discipline I have – which is not much – to not sidle up next to her and crank up some Hatebreed on my iPod. Luckily I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama so I was extra zen.
I don’t know if it is our increasing selfishness, sense of entitlement, or ability to be in the middle of a crowd without ever actually interacting with other people, but it’s obnoxious. I thought it was bad enough when I had to listen to people talking on their phones in line at Target, now I have to be privy to their Netflix playlist.
I love our new gym. It’s full of old guys and soccer moms. Last week, one of the old guys walked up to me while I was about an hour into my ride on the elliptical. He stopped next to the machine with a big smile and said “I see you here a lot. I come here a lot too, so I like to meet the people I see every day. My name is Jack.” I introduced myself but he was a little hard of hearing and kept repeating my name back to me as different words like gent, jan and gin. I finally spelled it for him J-E-N to which he replied “oh, short for Janet!” When I told him it was short for Jennifer he looked at me like I was nuts. I just smiled and kept jogging.
Before walking away he said “Oh, and I have dementia, so we will probably meet over and over again since I might not remember this conversation.” I told him I looked forward to it with a smile. You have to love a guy who has a sense of humor about his condition. It reminded me of something my Dad would say.
After a week of being away, I visited the gym yesterday and who did I run into – my best bud Jack. I was thinking about what new characters I could introduce myself as when he walked up and said “let me see if I can remember…. Jan, right?” I replied “Close, Jen” using my best midwest flat E. He leaned in a little closer and said “Jan, that’s what I said!” I guess I should have expected it after it being the name that appeared on my Starbucks cups all week on vacation. Maybe it’s time to head to Staples for some name tags. That or the Secretary of State to fill out the paperwork to change my name to Janet.
*I wrote this piece while listening to my daughter watch TV after being away from YouTube for a whole week!
We finally cancelled our gym membership after complaining about the place for a year. We were paying a small fortune to change in filthy locker rooms, shower with mold and get hit on by hairy old fat men in the co-ed sauna. I know that last one might seem like a perk to some people, but seriously, I have been given the head to toe eyeball by an old man that I thought was wearing a sweater in the sauna. It was, in fact, just back hair. Not just any back hair – grey back hair, and lots of it. At least I didn’t have to see him later in the locker room, unlike my husband.
When I went to the membership desk to cancel, the woman behind the counter asked me why. I said “where do I start?” before launching into my three page list of reasons. She stopped me after every few reasons on the list to tell me what her solution was. I have to give her credit – she didn’t even have to read from a script and some of her solutions were not completely terrible. For instance, she said that she could ask the cleaning staff to clean the locker rooms. What a concept! I told her ultimately they can clean the locker rooms, keep an eye on the sauna and police the training area where people blare dance music on their phones, but they can’t change their clientele and that is their biggest problem. I pointed out that they had signs posted over all of the drinking fountains that read “Do not spit in the water fountain!” I don’t want to share space with people who don’t know that it’s not okay to spit in the drinking fountain.
First they lift, then they spit!
I know I have kind of high standards and some of the things that got my panties all bunched up didn’t affect my husband in the least (the old dudes in the sauna for instance). He complained about very few things – mostly the fact that he could never find a parking space and that every time he went to put his water bottle in a cup holder there was a wad of gum occupying the space. Strangely, I never noticed gum in the cup holders, but I once found some in the bottom of a locker. He was also sick of smelling weed in the locker room and finding the source of the smell in the form of a gaggle of twenty year old “boys” hanging out in the sauna talking about their many sexual conquests. I’m sure all their stories were true. I mean they were hanging out in a sauna, half naked with a bunch of other dudes on a saturday night. Plus, they were talking about what studs they were, so clearly they must be!
We only have a few weeks left before our membership expires and I am getting every penny worth in these last few weeks. I have been at that place for a few hours a day every day of the week, Of course I am turning into a gym rat two weeks before bailing. I noticed last week that the water fountain signs have been removed. The locker rooms and showers are still filthy, but the life guards have been patrolling the sauna. I haven’t seen my friend with the sweater, so maybe he was told his presence was a health code violation.
While I was walking out of the gym last week a couple was walking through with a salesman. They were asking about parking and stated that it was difficult for them to find a place at 8 pm the first part of February. The salesman responded “yeah, parking in January is hard because everyone goes to the gym after the new year. It gets better.” I know that after the first of the year I have a hard time remembering what year it is, but this poor sucker was stuck In January. As I passed by I looked right at the couple and said “It’s not any better in June!” Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
This post was brought to you by coffee and the Beastie Boys!!
I have a love/hate relationship with the gym. It’s not for the obvious reasons though. Most people don’t like the actual work that is done at the gym but they love the results. I love working out, I just hate that it has to be with other people. The gym I go to is pretty crowded right now with all the people who decided that they were going to get in shape in 2018. They are the same people who made this vow at 12:01 on the first day of 2017. And just like last year, they will be gone by the end of February. But for now, they are mucking up the works. I have encountered more broken machines at the gym in the last three weeks than I did in the prior nine months. I was a little perplexed as to how this could happen so quickly with the ellipticals until I watched a teenage girl hop on the machine next to me and pump away as fast as she could for about two minutes until the machine started clicking and her knees started to buckle. I looked at her at one point just to make sure she wasn’t having a seizure. It turns out she couldn’t figure out how to turn on the machine to track her progress. She jumped off in a huff and walked away without wiping down her machine. Apparently she didn’t see the twelve signs posted all over the gym asking her to clean up after herself.
My husband returned from his workout last week and shared with me that a guy was humming the Ghostbusters theme really loudly and singing along to the parts he knew. I wish I had been there to hear that, but realized it was best I wasn’t there since I have a hard time not expressing my amusement and may have fallen off a machine laughing. Unfortunately a few nights later we both witnessed a guy who was both grunting and huffing simultaneously as he walked along on his treadmill at a whopping two miles per hour. A woman then started huffing away right behind us. At one point it sounded as if a porno was playing in surround sound. I couldn’t keep it together and had to head to the sauna.
The dry sauna is usually one of my favorite things to partake in at the gym. However, when the gym is crowded like it has been, the sauna gets a lot of extra traffic. The only good thing about this is that the conversations I get to overhear usually involve more bros and more idiocy. Unfortunately the added idiocy also comes with added pounds and added sweat. I try to sit in my corner and soak in all of the bizarre bro talk – mostly about their piles of money and how much they drank last night – without getting soaked by the sweat dripping off of them as they pace back and forth and stretch on the floor. There is also usually the one guy who has to prove he is extra tough by doing push ups in the middle of the cedar box full of people. I can’t even count the number of times I have walked out to the sauna after spending ten minutes fighting with my bathing suit in the locker room only to find wall to wall bros and no free seating. That is when I turn right back around and leave.
When the boobs come out these boobs get out!
Inevitably when I head back into the locker room there is only one other woman in the area, but she feels the need to take up every available inch of counter and bench space within 100 feet of her. Her 15″ x 15″ bag is like a clown car with 80 pounds of make up, hair product and clothing spilling out all over every available surface. In the past week I have watched a woman spread three towels over the benches in between the lockers and dump her beauty products all over the place claiming her space; a 6 year old lying down playing with her mom’s phone on one bench as said mom dropped wet towels and bathing suits dangerously close to my electronic devices sitting at the corner of the other bench while she spread her belongings all over the room; and two elderly women sitting topless, one on each of the two benches in the area while speaking Chinese very animatedly. The last scene had me throwing my coat on over my bikini and fleeing before getting knocked out by a boob as the women’s arms flailed while they chatted. It was then that I remembered why I rarely used the locker room.
Someone needs to write a pamphlet about gym etiquette, although I don’t know who would read it. People seem to be unable to read the various signs around the gym asking that they wipe down their machines after use, to not use cameras in the locker rooms and most disturbingly necessary to not spit in the drinking fountain. If the seven word signs are too difficult, a pamphlet on etiquette would be like reading War and Peace for the bros.
Are you talking to me?
One of the peculiar things that happens to my husband that never happens to me is that as he is getting on a machine a person walks over to tell him they are using that machine. They are sitting on a machine close to the one that he is attempting to sit down on or doing squats five feet away. They say things like “I am in the middle of a rep” or “I am getting back on that machine.” This has never happened to me. Although, to be fair I don’t make eye contact with people at the gym very often and my headphones are blaring Hatebreed so people could be yelling all kinds of things at me and I would have no idea. My husband is a nice guy and it’s written all over his face which is why people walk all over him if he lets them. Me, not so much. My expression usually says “get out of my way” even when I am not in a hurry. I mentioned to him several responses he could give to people who try to hold machines they are not using like it is their own personal gym. My responses included giving them a definition of “using” or pointing out that they were not in fact currently on the machine which means it is free to use by anyone. Since he is opposed to getting punched and/or harassed he declined my advice.
I think the entertainment I received last night made all of the overcrowding and close calls with accidental motorboating in the locker room worth it. I was in attendance at a one woman show. I was diligently pushing into my sixth mile on the elliptical when I heard a woman start singing in what can only be described as a pseudo operatic voice. I looked up at the television to see Beyonce jiggling away but the singing wasn’t matching up to the mouth movements on the screen. My familiarity with Beyonce is limited, as I only know a few songs (one of which was done better by Jonah Matranga), so I didn’t know what song was playing or who I was hearing.
I looked around and quickly found the source of the noise. A very small middle aged woman was on an elliptical machine a row behind me singing away with her eyes closed. I could hear the song she was listening to so she obviously was playing her music through her phone speaker for the whole gym to hear. This did not surprise me in the least, as I have heard people doing this at least weekly. The thing that surprised me was that she was wearing headphones. Either she did not have them properly plugged in or she had both the headphones and speaker enabled simultaneously. Whatever the issue was, this crazy lady was singing at the top of her lungs completely off key as she shared her “music” with half the gym. As I was looking back at her I noticed that several other people were laughing along with me. The best part about this is our little entertainer had no idea she had an audience giving her their full attention since she had her eyes closed. She was literally singing like nobody could hear. I turned around and went back to my workout but at one point the singing stopped abruptly. She must have opened her eyes or been otherwise tipped off to the fact that people were watching her.
I was amused by this woman because it is something I could relate to. Sometimes I get wrapped up in what I am listening to so much that I find myself running on the elliptical, lifting double the weight I am used to at double the pace or drumming on my legs. There are usually pretty awful videos on the televisions except on saturdays when every now and then a really good video airs. A few years ago I almost fell off my machine when Sleigh Bells came on right in front of where I was working out. I had to pick up my phone and text my husband and friends to tell them of this fabulous news. They were not all that excited and it ended up being a fluke because I never saw the video again. Someone probably saw me almost take a header and flagged it as a health risk to gym members! So to the singing little lady from the other night, keep it up. Joy is contagious, even when it is completely out of key.